Principal’s Bookshelf: January/February 2015

Flipping Leadership Doesn’t Mean Reinventing the Wheel.
Peter M. DeWitt.
Corwin Press, 2014, 66 pages.

The role of the principal is ever-changing, and leaders are looking for ways to grow and meet the needs of all stakeholders. In his book, Flipping Leadership Doesn’t Mean Reinventing the Wheel, Peter M. DeWitt identifies changes in modes of communication and leadership that will result in more engaged communities and deeper dialogue with staff and other stakeholders.

Flipped leadership is all about enhancing a leader’s communication with all stakeholders the school community. In the broadest sense, flipping refers to using technology to reverse the delivery of content, providing messages through video, for example, and reserving face-to-face time for interactive discussions. The strategy can be used with students for classroom instruction, as well as with staff, parents, and other stakeholders.

DeWitt’s message is easy to relate to because he approaches the topic from his own experience, opening with concepts such as learning intentions and qualities of connected leadership. DeWitt takes readers on a journey from the first steps of becoming a connected educator to flipping faculty meetings and parent communication. Along the way, he poses reflection questions and ends each chapter with action steps. Throughout Flipping Leadership, DeWitt stresses the need for clear learning intentions, which he models throughout the book.

A part of the Corwin Connected Educators Series, Flipping Leadership exemplifies the benefits of being a connected educator. In it DeWitt highlights members of his own professional learning network (PLN) who have impacted his leadership and evolution. His reflection that they have “supported each other through hard times and provided strength to move forward with new initiatives” should prompt any educator to become connected and take risks.

As leaders today, these connections and support are necessary to thrive and bring the best to our most important stakeholders, our students. Having had the opportunity to connect in person with Peter at the 2013 and 2014 NAESP Conferences, I can attest that his example has inspired many, including me. Invest the time to read this well written, quick read, and you will find yourself ready to take risks to “being innovative and building educational dialogue in your school.” What leader doesn’t want that?

Reviewed by Erin Simpson, principal of Overlook Elementary School in Wadsworth, Ohio. NAESP member

Hire Better Teachers Now: Using the Science of Selection to Find the Best Teachers for Your School.
Dale S. Rose, Andrew English, and Treena Gillespie Finney.
Harvard Education Press, 2014, 265 pgs.

We have all been there. A last minute resignation challenges the final countdown until school begins. The posting goes up, the applications come in, and within moments, over 100 applications arrive. Or worse, only one person applies for the science position. Then, because one hire can make or break student performance, you take a deep breath and pray that the perfect candidate is waiting to contribute to your school culture.

Instead of using this passive strategy, the authors of Hire Better Teachers Now: Using the Science of Selection to Find the Best Teachers for Your School suggest a research-based approach that can enhance hiring practices. The authors describe a step-by-step approach to help principals make the best hire by eliciting evidence from candidates. Through a variety of tools designed to identify the best candidate for the position, the authors provide a strong foundation of considerations, including the use of work samples.

Principals increase the likelihood of hiring a highly qualified teacher by seeking and considering work samples, which research shows have the strongest correlation to teacher effectiveness in student performance. A principal, for example, could provide candidates a set of data and ask them to create a small group lesson or develop a unit plan for two weeks. Such exercises provide principals with additional, professional data about the candidate.

The authors suggest that principals consider portfolios with caution. They showcase the candidates’ maximal performance, and not their typical performance.

Finally, the authors suggest that principals employ a systematic scoring system (think rubric) that can be used by committee members to provide uniformity and reliability with scoring.

There are many facets to consider when hiring, especially when time is of the essence. The hiring process can be cumbersome and overwhelming for both you and the candidates. Yet, hiring the best can make all the difference in your school. Hire Better Teachers Now presents a wealth of resources that enable administrators to hire the best teachers to maximize instruction and growth of your students.

Reviewed by Adam D. Drummond, principal of Lincoln Elementary School in Huntington, Indiana. NAESP member

Copyright © National Association of Elementary School Principals. No part of the articles in NAESP magazines, newsletters, or website may be reproduced in any medium without the permission of the National Association of Elementary School Principals. For more information, view NAESP's reprint policy.

Bookshelf_JF15.pdf66.57 KB